Ed is a well known international speaker for the Theosophical Society, and has been a member of the Society since 1959. He lives with his wife Mary in New York City.
The noble dream referred to by one of the adepts is universal brotherhood. Yet Theosophical philosophy suggests that we are already rooted in the ONE. If that theory is correct, then in one sense universal brotherhood is a fact rather than a dream. Why then did the adept call it a dream? It would seem that the apparent contradiction lies in the conscious realization of our ultimate unity with one another.
The adepts and the co-founders of the Theosophical Society have made it clear that the central purpose of the Society is to establish a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity. Yet our Society has been embroiled in a great deal of divisive behavior since it was founded in 1875. Those involved in the various disputes say they believe in universal brotherhood, but their actions speak otherwise. Clearly, an intellectual acceptance of universal brotherhood is not sufficient to bring it about. Is there something that members of the Society might do to realize brotherhood themselves and to lead others to that realization?
Blavatsky has told us that if we live the life wisdom will come to us naturally. While there is no step by step guide to living the life she referred to, there are clear guidelines that if followed might lead us to Self realization and to the realization of universal brotherhood. The guidelines are few in number and easy to state. They are study, meditation, and service. These three are so interconnected that one without the other two fails.
The Secret Doctrine and other major Theosophical works were written to give us some understanding of our world and more importantly of ourselves. Yet reading those works, remembering what we read, and accepting the theories intellectually will not bring about Self realization. The words and theories, in Blavatsky’s view, are meant to appeal to our higher faculties. Those higher faculties lie in buddhi, the state of consciousness from which we get insights.
If members will understand “study” to mean deeply pondering the theories expressed in the literature, they may gain insights into truth. This kind of study is a form of meditation. If in meditation members try to transcend the personal to realize the impersonal nature of the Self, they may also gain insight into truth. The inevitable result of that kind of study and meditation is a greater sense of unity with humanity as a whole. When that occurs, brotherhood becomes a living experience rather than a theory that we merely believe to be true. It causes us to passionately seek to awaken that sense of unity in others, and it leads to a life of service. That life of service is not a specific kind of service. Rather, it is an attitude of mind, one in which we are ever mindful of how what we do or what we do not do will affect others. Cheering up a friend or stranger who is depressed is service. Even being careful not to block supermarket aisles with our cart is service. It is in the countless little things that we serve, and each is a selfless act that reveals an awareness of universal brotherhood.
If branches of the Theosophical Society worldwide would encourage the kind of study, meditation, and service suggested above, it might help to bring bout the “regenerating practical brotherhood” that the adepts work to establish. Insofar as we are able to do that, we will revivify the Society, making it a useful channel through which the noble dream of the adepts might be realized. We could then replace the often repeated charge that “Theosophists are too intellectual” with “Theosophists are truly forming a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity.”